No negativity from fans to new stadium plans, says Hastings chairman

Tilekiln playing fields in St Leonards, where Hastings United Football Club hopes to build a new stadium. Picture by Justin Lycett
Tilekiln playing fields in St Leonards, where Hastings United Football Club hopes to build a new stadium. Picture by Justin Lycett

Hastings United chairman Dave Nessling says the football club hasn’t had any negative reaction from supporters to its revised plans for a new stadium.

The Bostik League Division One South club announced last Friday its intention to build a new ground at Tilekiln playing fields in St Leonards - a different site to its previous plans.

Nessling said: “We’ve not had any negativity really. We can’t afford to stay where we are (at The Pilot Field) because of the grandstand.

“All the time it was the council’s responsibility it wasn’t too bad, but when it was changed all those years ago it obviously put the onus on the club and potentially there’s £100,000 worth of work to do on it that the club won’t be able to afford to do.

“If we develop The Pilot Field, where does the money come from?”

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Hastings had hoped to move to a purpose-built stadium at Bulverhythe Recreation Ground as part of the Combe Valley Sports Village project, which would effectively have seen Horntye Park Sports Complex move to the same site.

That project also included the building of around 400 new homes at three different sites around the town, but the withdrawal of project partner Keepmoat Homes late last year and lack of a replacement forced United to rethink their plans.

The club took the decision in the summer to look at alternative sites within the borough and has identified Tilekiln as the only site that can meet the requirements of a new stadium project. The plans for Tilekiln would not involve Horntye Park.

A club statement read: “The club prepared proposals and plans for the project before discussing such with officers of Hastings Borough Council, who have been supportive, although as yet they have not presented the alternative option to the Hastings Borough Council cabinet and/or full council for their consideration.

“The option put forward to council officers by the club and its development partners is that the club is relocated on its own to a site which sits fully within the borough of Hastings on which a new purpose-built stadium with off-road parking would be constructed along with a second floodlit grass pitch and floodlit 3G pitch.

“The spare pitch facilities would be made accessible to the community, as would social and function, fitness and leisure, sports therapy and meeting room facilities within the stadium.

“The club feel that such a revised scheme, as detailed above, could be put in place and completed pretty quickly, and are keen for the council to agree to the proposed new route as soon as possible as the club is of the opinion the scheme ticks a lot of advantageous boxes for the council, club and community of Hastings in general.”

Nessling added: “I think we’re reasonably optimistic. Because of the community facilities that are going with the development, it’s a win-win situation for the council and the club. The council will get some new facilities that can be used by the community that they currently can’t afford to build.

“We’ve had positive conversations with the council, but at the end of the day it will have to be their decision whether they push ahead.”

United expressed a wish to relocate to Tilekiln under previous owner Dave Walters several years ago, but the intended move didn’t come to fruition.